How to Create an Editorial Calendar

By now, you’ve probably heard that blogging and creating fresh content for your website is extremely important.

So important, that companies who blog receive on average 97% more links back to their websites than those who don’t.

That’s a LOT of links.

But all that blogging and content creation can get out of hand quickly if you don’t stay organized…so what should you do?

Enter the editorial calendar.

I’ve been using an editorial calendar for the past few months to help stay organized with my blogging for JSL Marketing, and so far it’s been extremely helpful.

So…what is an editorial calendar?

Good question. It’s really just a calendar to keep track of what types of blogs you are writing, the topics you are writing about, and when you are posting the finished blogs on your website.

Some are more complex than others, keeping track of everything from the idea phase all the way through to publication, while others are much more simple. You can even create a workable document if you have more than one person in your organization working on the content – that way everyone knows where the piece is within the production process and what they all have to do in order to finish it by the deadline you assign (more on that later).

There are many ways to set up an editorial calendar – you could use excel or even a word document if you wanted. I personally recommend Trello – it’s free, easy to use, and wonderful for planning ahead.

If you haven’t heard of Trello, it’s basically a giant, online organizational tool that helps you keep track of everything.

It’s awesome.

They have these things called a ‘board’ on Trello. Within the board, you can create as many columns as you want, plus as many cards (the smaller, white rectangular boxes) as you want within those columns.

Since it’s just me using this board, I arranged my columns by months, with topics planned out ahead of time for each week (my goal is to post a new blog every Thursday).

It’s really important to try and plan out as many blog topics in advance as possible – that way, when you get to the day before your blog is due, you’re not scrambling for a topic. You’ve already got some ideas in the arsenal and you’re ready to go. That’s why I also have a “Brainstorming” column. Every time I think of an idea or something I’d like to write about, I create a new card and place it in that column for future use. Eventually, I will assign those cards to a specific month and due date.

You’ll notice the tiny red boxes on each of the cards – these are the due dates. It can be easy to slack off on due dates, especially when you don’t have anyone else to report to, but you have to think about the long term. If you continually slack off, your website isn’t going to have fresh content on a regular basis. And that’s only going to hurt you in the long run. So don’t slack off.

Now let’s take a look at an individual card…here’s the card for this blog post actually:

As you can see, I’m a bit of list person – hence the checklists. But it seriously helps me stay organized. Each week I open the corresponding card, take a look at the topic, and then get started researching. I can attach any of my findings to the card, or even post ideas in the comments below (this is especially useful if you have more than one person working on a post – you can collaborate on things so much easier).

As I work my way through the process, I can check things off the list – research, first draft, edit, final draft, publish, promote – as I complete them. Then, once everything has been published, I can keep track of where I have promoted the blog on social media.

This whole calendar took probably less than an hour to set up, but it’s saved me countless hours of worry and stress. Everything is so much simpler when you have content planned out ahead of time – you just have to do the research and write the blog by the assigned due date. It takes the guess work out of the process.

It took me a little while to get used to using an editorial calendar, and I have to admit it felt a little silly at first because I was the only one commenting on the cards and checking things off the list. But after a few weeks, I really started to love the process. Not only does it keep me organized, but it allows me to spend more time doing other things within the business that I might not have had time to do otherwise.

Overall evaluation = success!

What about you? Have you ever used an editorial calendar before?

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